British Govt says no to tax on sugary drinks

24 September 2015

The British Government has ruled out a tax on sugary drinks.

The Department of Health said in a statement that “the causes of obesity are complex, caused by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach.

“As such the Government is considering a range of options for tackling childhood obesity, and the contribution that government, alongside industry, families, and communities can make, and will announce its plans for tackling childhood obesity by the end of the year.”

The statement follows the presentation to the department of an online petition which received more than the 100,000 signatures required to spark a parliamentary debate on the issue. Those signatures were gathered in just two days, and totalled just short of 150,000. The petition, which was launched by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, called for a 7p tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomed decision, saying a tax would have hit low-income families without improving the health of the nation.

FDF Director-General Ian Wright said food and drink companies are actively playing their part in taking on obesity through commitments on reformulation, portion sizes, responsible marketing, and community interventions.

“Obesity will only be beaten by a national partnership involving Government, the NHS, and health professionals, schools, retails, restaurants, and food and drink producers.”

The New Zealand Government is expected to announce initiatives on childhood obesity within coming weeks (see report on Peter Gluckman interview on this website here).